In a major blow to the Indian government, the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Saturday in break with precedent added an appeal to end the humanitarian crisis in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir in its report ahead of the annual Foreign Appropriations Act for 2020.
The move could become the first step towards legislative action by American lawmakers against India, The Hindu reported.
The amendment was proposed by Senator Chris Van Hollen, who visited Delhi this week as part of a congressional delegation that discussed the Kashmir situation as well as India-US bilateral relations, trade ties and defence purchases with key officials. Senator Van Hollen was denied permission by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government to visit the occupied valley which has been under lockdown since August 5 after New Delhi revoked its autonomous status, Washington Post reported.
According to the report, which was submitted to the Senate by Lindsey Graham, a senior senator and key Republican leader known for his close ties to President Donald Trump, the committee on Appropriations “notes with concern the current humanitarian crisis in Kashmir and calls on the Government of India to: fully restore telecommunications and internet services; lift its lockdown and curfew; and release individuals detained pursuant to the government’s revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.”
What makes the report as well as the tough language on Kashmir more startling is that the document was submitted on September 26, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi was still in the US, and came just a few days after his joint address at the ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event in Houston with President Trump, as well as their bilateral meeting in New York.
“This amendment, which was accepted unanimously by the bipartisan committee, is a strong expression of concern by the Senate about the situation in Kashmir and sends the signal that we are closely monitoring the human rights situation there, and would like to see the Government of India take those concerns seriously,” Senator Van Hollen told The Hindu.